The liberals of India must learn from British history. It is because of wrong-headed liberalism and wrong-headed sympathy for the workingman that Britain lost its pre-eminence as an industrial power. Ultimately, the working classes of Britain lost heavily.
Trade unionism can never raise the wages of all workers. It is inherently coercive and can secure better terms only for those workers within the labour combination. Therefore, unions should not have any legal privileges. There should never be a "right to strike."
I can suggest some essential reading for Jug Suraiya. The late Professor WH Hutt has written extensively on the "strike threat system" and the economics of trade unionism. Some of his books are available at the library of the Centre for Civil Society in New Delhi.
Indeed, we all sympathize with the poor worker. But that should not blind us to the ugliness, corruption and blackmail that trade unions represent. The Rule of Law must be impartial. Justice must be equal for all. Since all strikes are necessarily coercive, and violations of contract, they should be banned.
The working classes have all to gain from peaceful industrial relations. Their wages – and by this I mean the wages of ALL workers – can rise only when more and more capital is invested. There is an inherent harmony between the interests of the workers and those of the owners of capital. Indian liberalism today, having learnt from Britain's mistakes, must never allow their sympathy for workers to be exploited by trade unionists.